A student, an embalmer and boxer all rolled into Singapore's Danisha Mathialagan

The 25-year-old from Singapore, who is part of the ongoing IBA Women's World Championships, is a proficient boxer & an equally proficient embalmer
A student, an embalmer and boxer all rolled into Singapore's Danisha Mathialagan
NEW DELHI: Boxing is her passion and she has crunched bodies with her stinging punches over the years. She is also proficient in taking care of bodies, albeit bodies of the deceased. Danisha Mathialagan comes across as a regular 25-year-old and seems high-spirited as she reveals her fascinating journey so far. Part of the Singapore national boxing team in the ongoing IBA Women's World Championships, she is also a part-time embalmer (a person whose job is to use chemicals to prevent a dead body from decaying).
"I'm a freelance embalmer. It's my passion. It's very calming and peaceful. You get to wind down a bit, especially after hard training. It's nice to give back to society every once in a while. I do it during the weekends during my off days," Danisha states with conviction, after a successful outing inside the ring at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex in New Delhi on Sunday. "I have embalmed close to 300 bodies. I have also done autopsies before. It's very much part of my life."
Up against Tajikistan's Ruhafzo Haqnazarova in the 50kg category, Danisha showed her skills with fisticuffs to post a 4-0 win. To casual viewers, the result might seem nothing out of the ordinary but it's a massive lift for the World No 29 who's competing at the marquee event for the first time. "It wasn't easy for us to come here because most of us are self-funded. Our women's team is relatively new. We're just trying to see where we stand at the world level," Danisha, who's naturally stoked after this performance, says with a beaming smile.
Unlike elite nations, Danisha, who has her roots in Namakkal (Tamil Nadu), and the rest of the Singapore team are new to this kind of environment. Anyone could have been disheartened given the state of sport in their country but not Danisha. She radiates positivity as she explains what keeps her wanting to keep the fire for the sport burning. "I feel I have a solid team. The coaches, who are ex-boxers, have been really supportive. They know how it feels to not have funds, not have enough exposure. I guess, with this (experience at the world meet), in this new team, we are trying to achieve greater things."

Online exam on Monday
Interestingly, her next challenge is not her next bout. She was due to write her exams (online) on Monday morning. "I have an exam tomorrow (Monday) at 11 am (Singapore), which is 8.30am here. I'm pursuing Diagnostic Radiography (X-rays and CT scans), University UG course," Danisha, who'll turn 26 in May, reveals.
It's comprehensible that she's someone who likes to challenge herself and she has mastered the art of juggling between training, studies and other passions. "It's about management, juggling between training and studies. I guess that's the life of a Singaporean athlete because we don't have funds and we're not paid to box here. But it's okay! I'm really enjoying it. You can be really good at one thing but if you can be good at two things, it's even better right?"
The fact that her parents have started to value her pursuit for combat sport speaks for itself. "Being a daughter, it was a little difficult to get their blessings initially. But they do see that it comes with a lot of discipline, time management. They see that I work very hard and I guess that they're okay with it. They still haven't watched me fight in real life, but they are scared that I'll get hit but I understand...but they are really supporting." The last time she visited India was when she was a toddler. She's happy to soak in the Indian culture here. "When I was three years old, I visited India. My grandparents are from South India (Namakkal). I understand and speak a little bit of Tamil. I feel a bit of the Indian vibes."
Danisha, who returned with a bronze medal in the Golden Belt Series tournament Marrakesh earlier this year, draws inspiration from her mother. It also becomes clear why she chose a rewarding passion like embalming. "I definitely look up to my mom. She is so passionate about her nursing job. I have seen her work day and night. She still takes care of her family. She doesn't really do anything for herself. She is totally selfless. I really look up to her." 
Sky is the limit for someone like Danisha, who embraces challenges with a smile and is not afraid to live life on her own terms.

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The New Indian Express